Maldives protests to India about detention and sending back of ruling party parliamentarian

Maldives protests to India about detention and sending back of ruling party parliamentarian

Male, June 7 (AVAS): The Maldives has officially asked India for an explanation regarding the detention of Member of Parliament Ahmed Nihan Hussein Manik, at the Chennai airport on Tuesday. He was refused entry into Chennai where he was to have had a medical check up.

Police director Heena Waleed said the incident has been brought to the attention of relevant Indian officials.

The Maldives Foreign Ministry had reportedly taken up the matter with the Indian Ambassador in Male Akhilesh Mishra on Tuesday. And the Maldivian embassy in New Delhi had raised it with officials in Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday.

There had also been media reports saying that Mishra had been summoned by the Maldives foreign ministry over the incident. But this is yet to be confirmed.

The Villi-Maafannu MP,Nihan Hussain Manik, who heads the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) in the Maldivian parliament,  had gone to Chennai on an on arrival visa. Though he had made the trip to Chennai several times before, the Chennai Immigration refused him entry.

The outspoken lawmaker later said that he was made to wait over four hours at the airport before he was sent back but said he does not believe that he was “deported.”

“I wasn’t asked to sign any document or they didn’t stamp my passport or talk about me being banned from future travel to India. But they had around three documents with them. They took one of the documents to the airline agent but they didn’t show me what was in it,” he said.

“They asked me which party I worked for and when I told them PPM (ruling Progressive Party of Maldives) they made me wait even longer and went to get more information.”

The Maldives Foreign Ministry had taken up the matter with the Indian Ambassador in Male Akhilesh Mishra on Tuesday. And the Maldivian embassy had raised it with officials in Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi on Wednesday.

There had also been media reports saying that Mishra had been summoned by the Maldives foreign ministry over the incident. But this is yet to be confirmed. When asked police director Heena Waleed only said the incident has been brought to the attention of relevant Indian officials.

Nihan meanwhile had described the move as “bullying” and called on the relevant Maldives authorities to officially demand an explanation from their Indian counterparts over the incident.

“I think it still might be due to the bitterness over the GMR (airport contract) row. I don’t think it has anything to do with sanctions [against the government]. I’m more inclined to think that it was bullying. The way they [Indian immigration] acted certainly pointed towards that. I want to know if this happened just for me or because I’m a government supporter,” Nihan said.

Bilateral ties between the two countries remains at an all time low since the Maldives President Abdulla Yameen declared a State of Emergency on February 5, this year following an order by the country’s Supreme Court to release a group of opposition leaders convicted in widely criticized trials. He then purged the Supreme Court by arresting Chief Justice Saeed and Justice Hameed along with many opposition political leaders and ultimately had the earlier order revoked.

President Yameen amid the crisis had singled out China, Saudi Arabia and Russia as Maldives’ closest friends as he established strong relations with the global superpowers since assuming office much to the dismay of India.

The Maldives opposition led by self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed has repeatedly called for India’s military intervention to resolve the crisis in the island nation. More recently, the opposition has been pushing its neighbor to impose targeted sanctions against Yameen’s regime.

When asked if India has in fact yielded to opposition pressure and imposed travel bans on Maldives government officials, Nihan insisted that it was unlikely but said the “primitive” actions of the Indian officials were extremely disappointing.

“Now we must find out if India has a list of individuals for targeted sanctions so that we know whether we should travel to such a country or not. I don’t know if there is such a list because the they [Indian immigration] couldn’t tell me anything,” he said.

(The featured image at the top shows the PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan Hussein Manik)